U.S. military veteran with mental health history seeking 2nd chance at freedom.
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I'm posting this petition for my son, MarQui Clardy, Sr. I’ll start with some background information on MarQui's character and the circumstances that led to his present situation.
MarQui is a 33 year old father of four. On September 24, 2001, two weeks after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, he joined the United States Navy. He served as an Information Systems Technician while also attending ECPI University and serving as a Ship's Self-Defense Force (SSDF) team leader where he received intensive weapons, combat, and antiterrorism training. He was deployed to the Persian Gulf in 2003 for Operation Iraq Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. Two weeks prior to being discharged in 2005, MarQui was referred to a psychiatrist (due to some behavioral deviations, hallucinations, and a suicidal preoccupation) where he was diagnosed with "Adjustment Disorder." The psychiatrist noted that MarQui had a "major impairment in [his] thinking and judgement, manifested by inflexible thinking." Despite this clinical assessment, MarQui wasn't given any treatment, counseling, medications, or even a follow-up appointment, nor was he made aware of the diagnosis. He was simply released from service and left to transition back into civilian life on his own.
In 2006, MarQui enrolled at Old Dominion University to study computer science. This is where his financial troubles began. After his car was totaled in a flash flood, he lost his job due to a lack of transportation. He was able to find a succession of other lower paying jobs, but lost each of them for the same reason. As a result, he defaulted on his tuition payments, so his school registration was placed on hold. He also defaulted on his rent, and was notified by his landlord that he was being evicted from his apartment. Being jobless, carless, moneyless, facing imminent homelessness (without even the ability to improve his circumstances by finishing his college degree), and not able to financially support himself or his children caused an unfathomable amount of stress that likely triggered MarQui's Adjustment Disorder, and he made the ill decision to commit three robberies to get some money. In 2008, he was arrested and tried in court. Since the military had never notified MarQui of his mental health diagnosis, this information was never presented for the judge's consideration (even though MarQui's condition undoubtedly played a MAJOR factor in his decision to aberrantly break the law). MarQui was convicted on all charges; although he has a good background, NO prior criminal history, and absolutely NO physical violence had occurred in either offense, the judge sentenced him to 33 years in prison.
MarQui just learned about his mental health diagnosis in 2014, six years AFTER being incarcerated. He has taken full responsibility for his actions, however, we must also recognize the military's role in discharging him back into society while neglecting to treat the mental health condition with which THEY diagnosed him! There's no limit to the behavioral effects that "impaired thinking and judgement" can have on those afflicted, especially if it's left untreated. Even the Department of Defense acknowledges that untreated mental health conditions among veterans pose a greater safety threat than those which are being treated. In MarQui's case, his impairment went untreated for THREE ENTIRE YEARS, leading up to him making the poor decision to break the law. His background shows that he clearly was not a criminally-inclined person. Had the military treated his condition before discharging him, or even afterward at one of the V.A. medical centers, it’s very likely that MarQui would have exercised better judgement and not commited those robberies.
Because of the post-conviction discovery of MarQui's mental health diagnosis, as well as the positive strides he's made throughout his incarceration- which include earning college credits by completing classes at Washington and Lee University, completing classes through Emmaus Correspondence School and Life's Key Ministries, enrolling in all of the requisite DOC rehabilitative programs, remaining free of institutional infractions, maintaining employment as a GED tutor (among other jobs), remaining an active member of "incarcerated veterans" groups throughout DOC, being consistently rated as a "very low risk of recidivism" by DOC's COMPAS assessment, writing two novels (one of which has been published), several articles for Hamilton College, The Marshall Project, and Cell Door Magazine, and a social justice / criminal justice book he's currently working on - Redemptive Life Foundation has filed a clemency petition on his behalf, asking Governor Northam to commute his prison sentence and allow him to be released. MarQui has gained ample support from family, friends, former coworkers, college coeds and class instructors, military veterans organizations, and religious groups. But we're seeking even more support to ensure that he gets the chance he has worked hard for. After ten years in prison, JUSTICE HAS BEEN SERVED! MarQui broke the law, however, given the fact that he was suffering from an unknown (by him) and untreated mental illness, his harsh 33 year sentence is unfair and unjust. It is also a slap in the face to all those who have served our country's military that were left physically and/or mentally impaired. He has also shown throughout his incarceration what type of person he truly is, and why he should be granted a second chance at his freedom. Please sign this petition to help us get him that chance. Thank you!
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